Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright, and if you've got the mistletoe, Dan Tewes can provide the turkey.
The fresh turkeys Tewes sells around the holidays pay his farm's bills for the rest of the year.
Two days before Thanksgiving, 2,500 turkeys went out the door at Tewes (TOO-iss) Poultry Farm in Erlanger. Another 400 to 500 are likely to make their way to dinner tables for Christmas. And then things will quiet down a bit.
"You're lucky to sell 100 the rest of the year," Tewes said. "If I don't make it at Thanksgiving, I ain't here next year."
At $2.25 a pound, he averages about $45 per turkey, and people from throughout the region flock to get them.
The farm is so busy during Thanksgiving that extra help is brought in to direct traffic.
The turkeys come unfrozen, and Tewes encourages customers to bring their pans with them to ensure a good fit.
Tewes' grandfather, John Tewes Sr., started the farm in 1924 in Edgewood, focusing on hatching and raising chickens.
Tewes' father, John Tewes Jr., bought a farm between Crescent Springs and Erlanger in 1945 and later expanded his poultry business to include turkeys.
John Jr. had 17 children, and Dan Tewes is the 13th of them.
As kids, he said they were kept busy with daily chores that "kept us out of trouble."
While the other siblings went on to careers as investors, homemakers, life insurance agents and the like, Dan and a brother took over the business in the late 1980s after their dad died.
Dan Tewes said his brother "moved on to bigger and better things" 10 years later, and, for the most part, he has been flying solo ever since. He gets help from his wife, Darlene, and a few others.
But just before the holidays, much of the rest of the family — brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews — come back to help process birds and wait on customers.
"I had extraordinary help this year," Tewes said, noting that the family dressed 1,000 turkeys in one day alone before Thanksgiving.
For Tewes, a normal Thursday is "processing" day, when his wife, daughter and a few other helpers pitch in to kill and dress the poultry for the coming week.
"I try to anticipate what I'm going to need. You just try to guesstimate," he said.
Any birds that don't sell are frozen and sold to customers who want them that way.
Most people want them fresh, though.
"They're finger-licking good," Tewes said, "and half of it's the cook."
The farm also offers eggs and a host of other poultry products as well as fresh veggies in the summer. During Easter, they have live chicks, ducklings and bunnies for sale, although Tewes said the rabbits are "more a hobby than a business."
The farm isn't considered organic. It markets its products as "natural" — meaning the poultry isn't given hormones, and they aren't kept in cages.
When the weather permits, the turkeys roam outside on about 5 acres. Throughout the winter months and when it's raining, they are kept in barns.
"I treat 'em like you would your kid," Tewes said, adding that being out in cold, wet weather "lowers your resistance."
They are fed a corn and soybean meal mix, he said.
One of Tewes' satisfied customers is Hazel Stamm.
As a young wife 56 years ago, Stamm was making eggs for breakfast one morning when she got an unpleasant surprise.
"I broke a rotten egg," she said. "Well, that was the end of that."
The "end" of buying eggs at the grocery store turned out to be the beginning of her patronage of Tewes Poultry Farm.
Dan Tewes delivered eggs and fresh chickens to her home with his father as a child, and he's still doing it today.
Stamm said this past Thanksgiving she cooked an 18-pound turkey from Tewes' farm.
She said she'd never dream of buying a frozen turkey at the grocery store.
"It just tastes better," she said of the fresh turkey. "It was heavenly."